Car accidents in Indiana always come as a shock and can lead to trauma, even if they’re minor. You’re on the way to run a quick errand, or pick up your kid from school — you’re only five minutes from home. You’re extremely cautious when driving in inclement weather, but the driver behind you is texting and driving while road conditions worsen.
Suddenly, you feel a vehicle slam into you. You’ve been rear-ended in a minor car accident.
After you process through your shock, you may wonder what steps you should take.
Should you file a police report? Should you document the accident with photographic and video evidence? When should you hire a lawyer after a minor car accident in Indiana? Is an attorney even necessary in this scenario?
Car accident statistics in the U.S. and Indiana
Many of us will endure the trauma of car accidents at some point in our lives. In the U.S., there are 13 car accidents every minute. If we’re lucky, any accident we’re involved in will be minor. The statistics on car accidents in the U.S. and Indiana provide a greater insight into the frequency and severity of vehicle accidents.
In 2019, 12.5 million U.S. vehicles were involved in some level of collision. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), from January to September 2022, U.S. car accidents resulted in 31,785 fatalities. However, these disturbing figures only account for a small percentage of car accidents. Out of 284 million vehicles on the road, major car accidents aren’t as prevalent as you might think.
In Indiana, fatal accidents account for less than 12% of collisions. Nonetheless, in 2019, nearly 4,700 people suffered major injuries as a result of a car accident. Over 20% of the accidents that occur on Indiana roads are caused by speeding drivers. However, recorded statistics for Indiana car accidents don’t necessarily paint a full picture of minor collisions. Some drivers involved in minor crashes decline to file a police report or don’t report their accident to their insurance companies.
Examples of minor car accidents in Indiana
The legal difference between a minor and major vehicle collision in Indiana stems from the resulting condition of your vehicle. Your car still may incur costly damage, and you may even suffer injury. However, if your vehicle and your physical condition aren’t hindered and you’re able to safely drive away from the scene of your car accident, your collision is considered minor.
In contrast, major vehicle accidents will impede your ability to safely operate your vehicle and may result in severe injuries. The following examples of collisions can result in minor accidents:
- Rear end accidents that occur at reduced speeds
- Head on collisions that occur immediately after all involved vehicles are at a stop
- Merging into another vehicle at reduced speeds
- Vehicle spinouts in inclement weather at reduced speeds
Some common examples of the aftermath of minor car accidents in Indiana include:
- A shattered windshield
- Dents or scratches on the car’s body that don’t disable the vehicle
- A broken headlight or taillight
- Bumper cracks or breaks
- Flat tires
- Broken tire rims
- Damage to exterior mirrors
- Deployed airbags sans major vehicle damage
At the very least, Indiana fender benders can prove stressful and traumatic. Some minor accidents can still lead to the headache of mounting bills and could still result in injury.
Common injuries after a minor accident
A minor car accident may not leave you aware of injuries you’ve suffered. In the immediate aftermath of your collision, your system may race with adrenaline. If you’ve suffered internal injuries or hematomas, you may not feel their impact for 24 hours, or until your adrenaline has subsided.
Some of the most common injuries you may experience after a minor car accident in Indiana include:
- Broken bones
- Joint sprains
- Ligament damage
- Muscle strains
- Neck and back pain
- Nerve damage
- Subdural hematomas
- Wounds requiring medical stitches
What to do after a minor accident in Indiana
After your minor accident in Indiana, you may feel the urge to survey the damage to your car and get home so you can recover from your trauma. However, even in minor car accidents, it’s vital you still take steps to protect yourself. Your minor collision could still entitle you to compensation, but you need to ensure you have legally documented your accident first.
Exchange insurance information with involved drivers
This may seem like an obvious step. Yet, in fender benders in Indiana, drivers may choose to pay for damages without using their insurance coverage. Even if you don’t file a personal injury or property damage insurance claim, ensuring you have the contact information and policy data of all involved drivers is important.
Some insurance companies also require you to report any damage to your vehicle — regardless of whether or not you use coverage to pay for your repairs. By contacting both your insurance carrier and the insurance companies of all involved drivers, you’ve documented your accident. Should future issues with your car arise as the result of your fender bender, you can refer to your documentation.
File a police report
In Indiana, you’re required to file a police report if a car accident causes any level of injury or at least $1000 of property damage. You may not be able to properly assess your injuries or the financial cost of any vehicle damage on your own. You can call 911 and request assistance or file your report online through ARIES (Automated Reporting Information Exchange System). Even if you do not retain an Indiana car accident lawyer, a police report is still important documentation for your personal files.
Seek medical attention for any injuries
Before you dismiss the severity of your accident or quickly accept any offered insurance settlement, wait a few days. In the immediate aftermath of your minor accident, if you feel resulting minor aches and pains suddenly exacerbated, you may need medical attention.
A proper diagnosis and suggested treatment can inform your decision to hire a lawyer. If you accept a settlement before you know the extent of your injuries, you may miss out on compensation you deserve.
How a lawyer can help after a minor car accident
You may not need a car accident lawyer after your minor collision. Although insurance companies are often reluctant to pay out large settlements, you may experience a relatively pain-free process if your car didn’t sustain major damage and you did not suffer injury.
If your vehicle is operable but the damage incurred proves costly or your injuries require medical treatment, you may want to consider consulting an Indiana car accident lawyer. The right lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies and gather the evidence and documentation of your collision.
At Yosha Law, we are passionate about our clients, and consider them part of our family. We will help with your car accident claim and fight for what you’re owed.
We also offer an initial free case evaluation so we can help you explore the merits of your case and guide you through the legal process.